Thanks to Israel, War in Europe No Longer Creates “Surplus Jews”

March 1 2022

In the past few days, thousands of Ukrainian Jews have inquired about moving to Israel. Even before the fighting began, Jerusalem was preparing to bring 100,000 Ukrainian Jews into the country should it be necessary. These reports led Daniel Gordis last week to reflect on the meaning of Zionism, and on the story of some 800 Romanian Jews who embarked to Palestine in December 1941 on an unseaworthy vessel called the Struma. The ship soon found itself floating in the Black Sea, with neither Turkey nor Britain willing to take in its passengers. It was then torpedoed by a Soviet submarine, leaving only one passenger alive:

Eighty years ago this week, on February 24, 1942, nineteen-year-old David Stoliar was alive, alone, floating on a piece of wood in the middle of the Black Sea, surrounded by corpses, yelling all night into the dark so that he would not fall asleep and freeze to death.

Perhaps the most important element of the story to remember is to be found in a British governmental communication from 1941, referring to the Jews who were desperate to escape Europe and who, the British rightly understood, would try to make their way to Palestine despite British objections. “We should have some alternative scheme in hand for disposing of these surplus Jews, who having escaped from persecution in Europe, are going to be kept in detention camps in British colonies,” the communication stated matter-of-factly.

It is in vogue in certain progressive circles for Jewish educators to declare that . . . the “notion that Israel must exist. . . is predicated on the belief that eradicating global anti-Semitism is such an unattainable goal that we cannot exist elsewhere safely.” It takes a moment like this, with many thousands of Jews about to be caught in the crosshairs, to remind us of how glib these worldviews, privileged by an illusion of safety that Jews elsewhere do not have the luxury of imagining, can only be expressed by those blind to centuries of Jewish history.

Israel’s most important function is not serving as a refuge for Jews who need it. Nine-million people do not go about their business of living here and building this country so that one day, if Jews need a place to go, we’ll be here. Still, though, refuge is part of why Israel is around; the fact that there is a Jewish state means that there are no longer “surplus Jews.”

Read more at Israel from the Inside

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Read more at Israel from the Inside

More about: Holocaust, Refugees, War in Ukraine

 

How Israel Should Respond to Hizballah’s Most Recent Provocation

March 27 2023

Earlier this month, an operative working for, or in conjunction with, Hizballah snuck across the Israel-Lebanese border and planted a sophisticated explosive near the town of Megiddo, which killed a civilian when detonated. On Thursday, another Iranian proxy group launched a drone at a U.S. military base in Syria, killing a contractor and wounding five American soldiers. The former attack appears to be an attempt to change what Israeli officials and analysts call the “rules of the game”: the mutually understood redlines that keep the Jewish state and Hizballah from going to war. Nadav Pollak explains how he believes Jerusalem should respond:

Israel cannot stop at pointing fingers and issuing harsh statements. The Megiddo attack might have caused much more damage given the additional explosives and other weapons the terrorist was carrying; even the lone device detonated at Megiddo could have easily been used to destroy a larger target such as a bus. Moreover, Hizballah’s apparent effort to test (or shift) Jerusalem’s redlines on a dangerous frontier needs to be answered. If [the terrorist group’s leader Hassan] Nasrallah has misjudged Israel, then it is incumbent on Jerusalem to make this clear.

Unfortunately, the days of keeping the north quiet at any cost have passed, especially if Hizballah no longer believes Israel is willing to respond forcefully. The last time the organization perceived Israel to be weak was in 2006, and its resultant cross-border operations (e.g., kidnapping Israeli soldiers) led to a war that proved to be devastating, mostly to Lebanon. If Hizballah tries to challenge Israel again, Israel should be ready to take strong action such as targeting the group’s commanders and headquarters in Lebanon—even if this runs the risk of intense fire exchanges or war.

Relevant preparations for this option should include increased monitoring of Hizballah officials—overtly and covertly—and perhaps even the transfer of some military units to the north. Hizballah needs to know that Israel is no longer shying away from conflict, since this may be the only way of forcing the group to return to the old, accepted rules of the game and step down from the precipice of a war that it does not appear to want.

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Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Hizballah, Iran, Israeli Security